Shakra – “Mad World” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Reflected in their multiple and regular chart entries in Germany and of course Switzerland, hard rockers Shakra are fast approaching their 25th year anniversary, so what better way to celebrate it than with another stonking new album! As can be expected from a band of this caliber, who’ve toured with Gotthard, HammerFall and Stratovarius, as well as played festivals like Bang Your Head, “Mad World” is 12 tracks of ball grabbing hard rock awash with heavy hooks, singalong choruses and memorable melodies all superbly arranged to be hugely catchy. A reflection of the chaotic moments both in the band’s career and in the world in general, this 11th album takes on those turbulent times with an energy that has kept the band going through them, and indeed, there’s a strong never say die vibe to the material which as you can imagine sounds just as good live as it does in the studio! It’s clearly evident as the twin pulsating pick ups stoke the hard rock n roll opener ‘Fireline’ and like a Harley revving off, the music roars as Mark Fox’s soul takes us to the crowd singalong chorus, not forgetting the rock out solos from guitarists Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster. Next up is ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’, an initially brooding piece that builds slowly in power with Fox adopting a slight gravelly edge but brilliantly offset by its catchy but punchy melodic chorus complete with soft harmonies. Then there’s ‘A Roll Of The Dice’ with smashing drums, heavy riffs and wailing guitars that takes you right back to Shakra’s beginnings and again, brought to climax by a huge heartfelt chorus that you could be singing in a stadium! For the deeper thinkers, then ‘When It All Falls Down’ with its slightly melancholic vibe that touches the soul beautifully and complemented by some truly moving guitar, yet offset by some uplifting epic riffs accompanying the chorus is undeniable in its spirit. Mad world it may be, but Shakra have their eyes dead on target here.